Carmen, the composer Bicai’s opera, is one of the highest achievements of French opera in the 19th century. Strong dramatic conflicts and touching music make Carmen popular all over the world, and it is still one of the masterpieces with the highest performance rate in the contemporary opera stage.
In the second half of 19th century, a kind of "lyric opera" between "grand opera" and "comic opera" gradually replaced the dominant position of French grand opera. Most lyric operas choose touching stories, and some familiar love stories have become opera themes. Bicai’s Carmen is the work of this period.
Carmen is adapted from French realist writer Merimee’s novella Garman, which tells the love story of Carmen and officer Don Hauser in gypsy woman.
On March 3, 1875, "Carmen" ushered in the opening night at the Opera House in Paris, but the effect was not satisfactory. At that time, some critics thought that the music of Carmen was dull and boring, and stories such as gypsies and soldiers should not be put on the stage, especially the independent and uninhibited character of the heroine Carmen ran counter to the mainstream thought at that time. Facing the criticism, Bicai, a composer, was so frustrated that he even called the opera Carmen a "100% desperate failure", so he lingered painfully in the streets of Paris all night.
Surprisingly, however, the opera Carmen was highly praised by contemporary Saint-Sang, Tchaikovsky and Debussy. Saint-Sang and Tchaikovsky predicted that "in ten years, it will become the most popular opera in the world".
However, Bicai failed to wait until this day. After the failure of the premiere of Carmen, Bicai became ill from then on. Only three months later, he died of illness at the age of 37. It was once said that Bicai died of depression because of excessive grief, but serious music historians have repeatedly corrected those sentimental statements, and they gave more objective reasons: heavy smoking made Bicai’s health poor for a long time, and he was diagnosed with throat disease and suffered from it very early. When writing Carmen, Bicai was already very weak. After many heart attacks, heart failure finally took his life.
Only one year after Bizet’s death, the performance of Carmen has gradually improved, and the meticulous description of the characters’ psychology, criticism of social reality and exotic life scenes in the drama have been loved by people. With the passage of time, the artistic value of Carmen has gradually become prominent and has become a long-lasting classic.
Source: CCTV Variety Show